“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5.3
What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? To be poor means to be utterly dependent on others and totally impoverished. The Greek word that Matthew uses here is the strongest word he could have used for “poor” (Gr. ptochos) it literally means “undone, pathetic, miserable.” This is the only place in the New Testament “poor in spirit” is used like this.
I am starting to understand this spiritual mystery a little. I have been a follower of Jesus for over 35 years, and I sit here pondering how I can live daily “poor in spirit.” To be miserable without God, and His presence? To be totally undone if He and I are distanced. To have a motivation everyday to draw close, to need Him so badly, that I am pretty pathetic without Him. I confess, I am so capable to not think or feel this for extended periods. Without the conscience desires and heart-grooming to love Him more, I am able to live without that strong living connection, and consciousness of Jesus’ presence. I can study, function, think, eat, and even be kind and loving without being “poor in spirit.” But to live daily “ poor in spirit” is a different level of desire, motivation and heart posture. It requires a consistent exposure to a posture of poverty in spirit I must posess.
To be needy in my spirit for Jesus, is something I cannot will, but I must “be”. How can this happen? What does this look like?
- To be in such a love relationship with Jesus that distance brings my poor spirit distress.
- To have such faith and true knowledge of the Lord, that I can do nothing of eternal value without working in tandem with His Spirit.
- To verbalize, ponder, and meditate of my spiritual poverty and deep need for Jesus.
- To know that “in Him I live, and move and have my being. (Acts 17.28), as I go about the daily, often, mundane routines of life not alone, but with the joy and light of Christ.
- To not allow my experience, self-sufficiency, or knowledge to substitute a life that is indwelling with the living Christ.
- To be with Jesus, to keep reminding myself of His glory, love, friendship, and life, which my life must be lost within.
To live like this is to live within the Kingdom of Heaven. To live without being “poor in spirit” is to live in the systems of this temporal world’s ways. To live in a state that we do not recognize we truly need Him in every way is to live in the un-desperate self-sufficient mode and the deception that Jesus does not matter and really doesn’t make a difference in who we are, and what we are doing. May we not be deceived. May we desperately with all poorness throw our life, our day, our strength, our thoughts, our desires, into His hands.
Cultivate your poverty in Spirit daily by being with Jesus. More than a “devotion” or “quiet time” but a posture of heart that continues throughout the day. Commune with Jesus in such a way, that if that communion is broken, you immediately know it, and return to being poor and needy for Him. So we really do live in poverty.
“For thus says the high and lofty one, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15 NRSV
Pastor Nate Elarton